Fairytales do exist in the world of horses. Especially when it involves top horse and rider combinations from around the world. Can you say Marcus, Darragh, and Steve? Add in the magical setting of Geneva, Switzerland, surrounded by breathtaking views of the Alps and Mont Blanc – we’ve got a Disney fairytale in the making.
To compete at Concours Hippique International de Genève (better known as CHI Geneva) is a goal that most riders can only dream of. From its flawlessly manicured footing, to picture perfect obstacles, entering the Palexpo arena – the biggest indoor arena on the planet – is where dreams are made, and Marcus is one step closer to achieving every show jumper's dream – the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
Do I even need to introduce Marcus Ehning? I’ll give you a brief introduction: he’s an Olympic champion, has ice running through his veins, and knows how to win. With his longtime partner, Pret A Tout – which translates to ‘ready for everything’ – Marcus shot to the top of the leaderboard following a nail-biting, five-horse jump-off in the Rolex Grand Prix. Narrowly edging out WEG silver medalist Steve Guerdat and Albfuehren’s Bianca, Marcus blazed to victory. With a win in Geneva and another in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen last July, Marcus can practically smell the €1 million Grand Slam prize.
Marcus Ehning and Pret a Tout are one step closer to the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Photo by Sportfot.
Attracting 42,000 spectators over four days of competition, fans are treated to indoor cross country, an FEI Driving World Cup™, grand prix dressage, and the highly sought-after title of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Champion. Did I forget to mention the Rolex Grand Prix? Not only does the winner get major bragging rights (I see you, Marcus), but it also puts them in the running towards the coveted title of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Champion – a feat that only one rider has accomplished: Scott Brash.
Speaking of Scott Brash, did you hear that his super mare, Ursula XII, was retired following her incredible sixth-place performance in the Rolex Grand Prix? Together since 2012, the pair has consistently dominated in the show ring – and won over our hearts. Although Ursula got a relatively late start compared to the typical grand prix horse, her results speak for themselves, which include winning the 2016 $3 Million CP International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows – her first ever grand prix victory at 15 years young; second place in the 2017 Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final; second place in the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup at Olympia; and winner of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Mexico City in 2018 – not too shabby!
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Our day has come and what a journey it's been. Another top 6 finish in one of the worlds biggest Grand Prix’s to round off a career we will never forget. The sport won't be the same without you and I know I certainly won't but it's time to enjoy your well earned retirement old girl. Thank you for the endless memories Ursula ❤️
We’ll be sad to no longer watch her fiercely gallop around the ring with Scott aboard, but we wish her a happy retirement at Scott’s home yard to begin her next chapter: motherhood. Here’s to hoping we see a baby Ursula soon!
The cross-country portion of eventing can be typically viewed over the rolling green fields of big estates with nail-biting obstacles and technical questions for horse and rider. Geneva took the excitement of cross-country and offered a unique spin on the fan-favorite portion – enter the Indoor Cross-Country presented by Tribune de Genève. A course of 26 obstacles, including the infamous Palexpo Lake, 17 combinations took to the daunting track. Irishman and WEG silver medalist Padraig McCarthy aboard Rosemaber Lancuest took the big win over Alexander Bragg and Alcatraz. With the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout the competition, the indoor cross makes us go wild!
Padraig McCarthy and Rosemaber Lancuest turn and burn. Photo by Sportfot.
It was a showdown between the Germans during the dressage Freestyle to Music presented by Jiva Hill Stables. With the reigning World No.1 Isabell Werth in attendance, riders had to put on their best performances to beat out the WEG gold medalist. Despite Isabell putting on an impressive showing aboard Emilio 107, fellow German Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB took home the top honors with a score of 84.075%.
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB. Photo by Sportfot.
A win in Geneva is special no matter what, but when it’s in front of your home crowd against the world’s best riders, it makes the victory even sweeter. For Swiss rider and Longines FEI World No. 2, Steve Guerdat, winning the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final – a class unique to Geneva – was the cherry on top of his fantastic year (remember when he won the individual bronze medal at the WEG?). Aboard the 10-year-old gelding, Alamo, Steve clinched the win ahead of second place finisher Henrik von Eckermann. This marks the second time the Olympic Champion has taken home the top honors. As one of the four riders who have managed to win the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final twice, Steve consistently proves he’s a force to be reckoned with.
So let’s make a toast to Geneva – a show that not only attracts the top talent from around the world, but one that celebrates the equestrian sporting world and brings the community together in the mythical place of Geneva. Cheers!
Feature photo of Marcus Ehning and Pret a Tout by Sportfot.